Read more about Jean's journey back to health...
Sitting at the kitchen table one recent morning with her husband, Dave,
Jean Richter happily declares, “We’re newlyweds.” She
points to a framed photo of their 2014 wedding. “We had a beautiful
love story and got married on a Boulder County farm,” she says,
“I didn’t want to lose that.”
Last fall, Jean, 62, suddenly had to face the prospect of losing her loved
ones: She was diagnosed with Heart Failure (HF), a chronic condition that
occurs when the heart muscle is weakened and can’t pump strongly
enough to meet the body’s needs. If not treated correctly, about
half of people who develop heart failure die within five years of diagnosis.
An active retiree, Jean was an unlikely HF candidate: She kept busy with
daily walks, regular gym workouts and babysitting 13 grandchildren. But
late last year, she began feeling short of breath, which she thought might
be due to asthma. Then her stomach began distending. Before she could
get a recommended GI scope, her symptoms worsened. She was having trouble
sleeping and retaining water in her lower extremities—so much that
Dave remarked on it after returning from a weekend trip. First thing the
next morning, he rushed her to the Foothills Hospital Emergency Department.
Doctors at Foothills quickly determined that Jean’s heart was racing—157
beats per minute rather than the normal rate of 60 to 100. But her struggling
heart muscle was pumping less than half the needed volume of blood. Although
no arteries were blocked, her heart was enlarged and one valve wasn’t
The heart failure specialist who 'made everything OK'
The next morning, the hospital’s heart-failure specialist,
Scott Blois, MD, came to Jean’s room to introduce himself. “I liked Dr. Blois
right away,” she says in a voice full of affection. “He literally
saved my life.”
Last year, Dr. Blois founded the Heart Failure Clinic at
Boulder Heart, the full-service cardiology program at Boulder Community Health. He is
board certified in advanced heart failure—a new specialty offered
by only a handful of cardiologists in Colorado. That expertise in managing
HF is yielding improved outcomes for many in our community, including
After Jean returned home from the hospital, Dr. Blois devoted significant
time to ensuring she was responding well to medications and offering guidance
about how to navigate her new condition. Four months later, he ordered
another echocardiogram. “He was so pleased with the results,”
Jean says. Her heart function had gone from severely weakened to near
normal—a huge improvement.
Feeling better every day
These days, Jean feels pretty ecstatic. “I almost feel back to normal.
I’ve had consistent energy. We can go on walks. I can do housework.
I feel really good.” Still, this journey has been far from easy—and
the support she’s gotten at Boulder Heart has made all the difference.
“I don’t like going to the doctor’s office, but I love
going there,” she says. “Dr. Blois is smart. He’s up
to date on all the new medications. But even more, he takes time with
you. He lets me hug him—and he hugs back.”
Jean has had other health challenges, but HF had the most devastating emotional
impact. She jokes, “I felt like I was turning into a frail old lady
counting out her pills.” She and Dave met with Dr. Blois to talk
about the depression. “I told him I was scared and had anxiety about
the future. He sat with me and listened, let me cry, and reassured me
that it would get better.”
Most days, it is better—much better. Jean is back at the gym. The
“newlyweds” even undertook an ambitious recent road trip:
hiking and exploring in Montana. Everything went great, except for the
unseasonably rainy weather. Back in the swing of life, it’s clear
that Jean relishes the luxury of focusing once again on everyday “problems”
Boulder Heart has three full-service cardiology clinics conveniently located across
Boulder County. To schedule an appointment, please call 303-442-2395.
Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.